The word Midbar is most commonly used to describe a wilderness area. In the King James Version of the Christian bible, it is used to describe wilderness 255 times. Wilderness areas are often very beautiful and attractive to us for a variety of reasons. They may be wild, serene, filled with flowering cacti, pine forests, or they may be inhabited by great wild beasts and contain beautiful lakes, rivers and glaciers.

It’s rather ironic that the same term, wilderness, when used in the context of where we are emotionally or spiritually takes on an entirely different meaning…or does it?

What beauty is there in an emotional or spiritual wilderness? The answer to that is ‘it depends.’ It depends on whether we allow the beauty of the moment to shine, or we close the door on it and dwell in the darkness. Dwelling in the darkness, or covering the beauty of wilderness moments, prevents us from soaking in the essence of being lonely or bewildered. Being alone with ourselves can enrich our souls as we discover more of who we are. So often we are absorbed in what we do. We are politicians, school principals, sales managers, CEO’s, entrepreneurs, farmers, professors, janitors, truck drivers, athletes, administrators and on and on. That is what we do, but not who we are. Getting in touch with ourselves is not easy unless we are alone with ourselves. The everyday distractions that we live in are clutter and blur our vision of who we are.

Did you ever think that your action-packed day may be starving you? As a leader, I know that the more clutter there is, the less clarity that I have. My vision can become distorted and decisions not well thought out. I recently heard it said, that the starved are easy to enslave. When I become mentally enslaved, I can feel it and know what to do. I need down time, alone time, time in the wilderness and time with my God. He is my source of identity, recovery and stability. In the wilderness where distractions are few, there is the possibility of serenity that doesn’t exist in the hustle and bustle of everyday. If we are starved of who we are we can become enslaved by who others want us to be or by who we think the ‘mainstream’ version of us should be. I believe we are created to be ourselves; unique in our own marvelous way. I believe that about every, single one of us.

You must not turn and run from the Midbar. You must trust that it will benefit you. Agree with me or not, I believe that a kick in the butt from life is a better teacher than a pat on the back. Don’t get me wrong, I love to give and receive pats on the back. The trouble with pats on the back (intentional contradiction) is that they happen during good times, or times of accomplishment. They don’t happen in the wilderness, at least naturally, because there is no one there to administer that action (other than God Himself).

I had a principal in high school who kicked me in the butt once. I hated him for it at the time as my pride was crushed and my feeling of self-worth diminished dramatically. Later, after other altercations, I realized how much he cared for me and wanted the best for me. His methods may have been flawed, but his heart was in the right place. He toughened me when I needed it most, and he did it out of love.

There is a right side up to every upside-down situation. When you are in the wilderness of life, think of what you can learn about who you are. Knowing yourself will help you understand the gap between who you are and who you want to become. Until you know that, you will never know what you need to do when you are once again alone in the wilderness.

So, don’t run from the Midbar. Embrace it! Don’t try to cover the beauty of the wilderness. Take it in! Take it for its value to you. Allow yourself to absorb it, so that you can get to know yourself. This may sound a bit new age, but it isn’t. In fact, the term, ‘wherever you go, there you are’ comes to mind when thinking of this. Your spiritual walk in life is what will dictate these times. If you think that everything happens because of you and your natural power, that will be your point of reference. If you believe in and rely on a higher power, that will be your point of reference. Wherever you are, realize that being alone in the wilderness creates the most teachable moments of your life. Don’t let them slip by without taking advantage of them. Will they be painful at times? Absolutely! But regardless of the pain, if you take it in and seek the value in the situation, you will grow; and your growth will come most from these times!